This book is a collection of Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear‘s columns in the Sunday Times between 2001 and 2003. He muses on everything from Concorde’s retirement to delayed flights in Spain. As usual, Mr. Clarkson is irreverent, frequently offensive, and more often than not just plan provocative. For the most part, he is quite funny and entertaining. I enjoyed it but it is probably not for everyone.
This fantasy novel has many science fictional elements, for example the internally consistent time travel. The “stranded in time” theme is very strong, as Doyle struggles to first survive and then to foil his magician adversaries.
For aviators, this is the ultimate, classic memoir. Ernest Gann started flying in the late thirties, flew transport planes all over the world during WWII, and continued flying for airlines thereafter. This book is part chronicle of his many adventures and misadventures, part collection of thoughts on life and flying.
Even a pilot with my limited experience can immediately discern the fundamental authenticity in the erudite voice of this true aviator. The book is episodic, with sequential periods and incidents within serving to move Gann’s destiny forward. Gann writes elegantly, peppering his oftentimes long whimsical tangents with razor sharp understatement. Technical matters become uncomplicated as they are reduced to how they really concern the pilot and his mental state. The essence of what it feels like to fly, in clear skies, in storms and in pouring rain, in Arctic winter and Saharan oven and Amazon jungle, is eloquently explained and examined, with an eye for that poetic and magnificent experience that truly attracts pilots towards flight.
Quite a magnificent book for pilots, and one that will hold the interest of others as well.